10 Tips for Hiking with Kids

family hiking | happyfitmama.com

Before kids (B.K.), Ron and I would spend hours and hours hiking on the weekend. We’d pack up our dog, a lunch and be on our merry way to the mountains. No need to worry about what time we left, how long we’d be gone or when we’d be home. We were carefree to wander as we pleased.

When we found out that we were expecting twins, we didn’t think anything would change. We dreamed of when we could take them out on the trail, in a pack to start with and eventually on their own two feet, to share our love of wandering. You just pack and go, right?

Oh how silly of us.

After kids (A.K.), changes everything. Including how you hike.

Hiking with kids isn’t as easy as it seems, especially when you are first getting started. So how do you turn your kids into enthusiastic hikers?

Tips for reaching the summit of your next hike with your little trekkers.  happyfitmama.com

1. Start short and slow. Don’t expect to cover 5 miles at a brisk pace for your child’s first hike. Starting off with a short distance at the child’s pace is best. Be prepared for frequent stops. LOTS of stops.

2. Toss out your agenda. Let your child lead. You may want to hike for hours, but if they call it quits after 15 minutes, it’s better to head back to the car rather than force them to keep moving onward.

Hiking kid  happyfitmama.com

3. Be prepared. Bring a First Aid kit because there’s bound to be a skinned knee. In addition, wet wipes, tissues, lip balm, sunblock and insect repellant are just as important.

4. Gear up. From mini backpacks, compasses, and water bottles, there’s nothing cooler to a child than a mini version of mom or dad’s gear. Although you most likely will be the one who ends up carrying that mini backpack in addition to your own.

5. Snacks and fluids. Hiking requires a lot of energy. When kids run out of energy, what happens? They get cranky. Very cranky. Keep your child happy and motivated by taking numerous small breaks for fluids and snacks. I’ve learned that you can never pack too many snacks. If you think you’ve packed enough, pack some more. More is always better.

Mt. Major  happyfitmama.com

6. Bring a friend. Having a friend on a hike helps motivate kids. There will be less whining and more chatting about all the cool things on the trail.

7. Dress properly. Make sure that you take ample amounts of clothing in case your child gets cold while out on the trail. Always bring a waterproof jacket with a hood in addition to a hat and gloves. Make sure your kids have the proper shoes. Finally, always pack a change of clothes for each child and leave them in the car for your return from the trail – chances are someone is going to be wet and muddy!

8. Stick it. Kids love sticks. It can be used for so many things – a walking stick, for bushwacking through low trees, poking at plants or as a pointer. We seem to always find the “perfect” hiking stick at least 10 times during a hike.

tips for hiking with kids  happyfitmama.com

9. Have a destination. Choose hikes with landmarks, like a trail that ends at a fire tower, a lake or a waterfall. A post hike destination is always a good motivator too. My kids’ seem to hike a little faster knowing that there’s a stop at an ice cream place on the way home.

10. Emphasize fun. The whole goal is to make sure that their experience is FUN so they will want to go again.

There will be whining. There will be complaining. But hopefully, there will also be laughter, excitement and joy in enjoying a fun experience as a family in the great outdoors. And that is marvelous when it happens.

18 comments on “10 Tips for Hiking with Kids

  1. HAHAHA – I love “stick it!” Of course my kids would probably be hitting each other with the sticks but…
    We’ve been hiking a few times with the boys and yes, you never know how short or long it will be! As they’ve gotten older, they will usually go longer…usually. Great tips and pictures!
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown – My Last Week in the WildMy Profile

  2. There will be whining….yes there will! We love family hikes and we just did a big one (7 miles/4,000 ft up) in the Adks. We had one meltdown about 3/4 of the way up. A sandwich was dispersed and all things improved. We then hauled it on up to the top. I loved the day.
    misszippy1 recently posted..The no plan running planMy Profile

  3. We unfortunately don’t have any trails around here to hike, but it was nice to read your tips for when we go on vacations. Thanks for sharing, Angela! Hope you have a fantastic day.

  4. I love the ‘toss out the agenda’ tip- that would be key for me! We did a little hiking before baby J and are now at a good place where we could probably take both kids, carrying J. I always wish we made more time for hiking… thanks for this reminder to make it happen!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Vancouver exploringMy Profile

  5. Wow, it’s so beautiful where you live! I’d love to hike like that. My only hiking occurs if we go on vacation somewhere. Too funny about before kids and not being on a schedule and having time to wander. So true! I am finding that introducing my kids early to all of the things we enjoy (downhill skiing, camping, running, scuba…) is really paying off. My kids can ski the whole mountain now at 10 and 12 yrs old! It was a bit of a pain, and an investment in our time to teach them to ski when they were toddlers, but it’s a great family sport now which we will enjoy for many more years together. It’s all worth it 🙂
    Lisa @ TechChick Adventures recently posted..Punta Cana, part 1!My Profile

  6. We believe in the amazing freedom and confidence hours hiking on the weekend gives kids for there mind growth.This has some great advise to get Hiking with Kids.

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